MARITIME | Russia begins Arctic route test

SOVCOMFLOT was reported today to be testing an Arctic route to deliver oil and gas to China – with an Aframax gas carrier escorted by two nuclear-powered icebreakers.

The government-owned shipping company, Russia’s largest, combined with Novatek, its second-largest gas producer, to ship 70,000 tonnes of gas condensate from Murmansk, with the ship leaving on 14 August, Mikhail Lozovoy, a spokesman for Russia’s second-largest gas producer, told Bloomberg today from Moscow.

He declined to give the specific destination, fix a target day for arrival or name the ships, but the route – eventually through the Bering Strait – would cut 4,000 n-miles off the usual 11,000 n-mile journey through the Suez Canal, according to a Fairplay account of 17 February. Novatek would still be able to use the route only in summer, when ice is reduced.

“We decided to try the new supply because Southeast Asia is a prime market for oil and gas,” Sovcomflot’s deputy CEO Evgeny Ambrosov told Bloomberg. “Even with the accompanying icebreakers, the passage will break even.”

The gas is from Novatek’s fields on the Yamal Peninsula



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